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DETAILED: Inside the NRM Caucus that saw Museveni return the Anti-Gay Bill to parliament

Museveni congratulated the MPs for their stand on homosexuality and agreed to sign bill into law once a few changes are made regarding rehabilitation.

President Museveni (Photo/File)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Legislators from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) yesterday resolved “to return the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 with proposals for improvement” after meeting with President Museveni in a special party caucus at Kololo in Kampala.

Mr Museveni in his remarks congratulated the members of parliament for their stand on homosexuality and agreed to assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2023 into law once a few changes are made regarding rehabilitation.

“It is good that you rejected the pressure from the imperialists. Those imperialists have been messing up the world for 600 years causing so much damage,” the President said, adding that most of the problems and the instability in many African countries are caused by imperialists trying to impose what is not meant for Africa.

Ahead of Thursday’s NRM caucus, the President who is also the party’s national chairman was briefed by the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka not to assent to the bill passed by Parliament in its current form as it criminalizes even those who voluntarily come out to have practised homosexuality and need to be helped. 

The AG in his letter to Museveni proposed a provision for amnesty for those who will have come out to be helped not to punish them to allow others not to fear to come out.

“This country has issued amnesty for people who have carried out criminal activities of treasonous nature against this country. A similar provision would be provided in this law to ensure that a person who comes out on his own is not criminalized. In that regard I would like to beg the Members of Parliament and implore them to allow Your Excellency to return this bill so that we can address that matter,” the Attorney General said.

Following guidance from the Attorney General, who is also the legal advisor of the ruling government, the President advised the MPs to modify and improve the clauses in the bill and that once those are fixed, he will definitely sign it into law to help combat rising acts of homosexuality in the country.

“The issue I raised is a matter of substance. I totally agree with the bill, but my original problem is the psychologically disoriented person. What you are saying is that the law doesn’t recognise him as long as he does not act. But how do you provide for him to come out?” Mr Museveni said, asking Members of Parliament to make some corrections especially not to frighten someone who needs rehabilitation to come out.

The President also promised to meet the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, the sponsor of the motion Hon. Asuman Basalirwa and other interested parties next week to finalize the bill.

“Since we have agreed now, I’m going to return that bill, and you quickly deal with those issues and we sign it,”

However, the President reminded NRM MPs of the need to be patriots when fighting what he termed as imperialists. He reminded them that in the 1980’s they fought to liberate Uganda with no pay until recently.

“That’s how we can fight. We’re dangerous because we can fight for no or low pay,” the President said, calling upon Members of Parliament to brace themselves for the likely consequences including cutting the wage bill which is about 8 trillion shillings to cater for sectors like health where promoters of Homosexuality are threatening to cut their aid to Uganda.

“One of the things they’re threatening is to kill our 1.2million people who have been surviving on PEPFAR funds to buy drugs for HIV/AIDS, so that we don’t buy the drugs for our people, and they die,” the President noted after information that the bill for AIDS medicine is 260 million dollars.

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“This is a simple matter which we can fight but parasites can’t fight. If you fear to sacrifice, you cannot fight. In order for you to fight I want to first cure you of parasitism. Europe is lost and they also want us to be lost. Those who want an easy life will end up being prostitutes,” the President emphasized.

There was a heated yet healthy exchange between the President and Members of Parliament on whether to make amendments to the bill or pass it in its current form where legislators assured the President of their full support in relation to implementing the bill once signed into law.

The Woman Member of Parliament for Busia Auma Hellen Wandera said that homosexuals once rehabilitated can change, giving an example of her female colleagues who were homosexuals but changed and are happily married with families.

Ndorwa East MP and State Minister for Trade Hon David Bahati informed the President and members that the law he sponsored in 2001 and the current both criminalize the acts of homosexuality and their promotion, saying that children recruited unknowingly should be rehabilitated to become better citizens.

The Vice President Jessica Alupo also called upon Members of Parliament to support the President and Parliament make a few changes to the bill so that it is passed when everybody is content.

“What is clear here is that no one of us here supports homosexuality and nobody has intentions to support it,” the Vice President said.

Hon Bright Rwamirama called upon the President to be firm and sign the bill to protect the country from immoral acts.

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“Homosexuality is not sickness. The bill is before you and there’s no contradiction at all. Those people trying to convince you otherwise want to water it down,” Minister Rwamirama said.

NRM’s Communications director Emmanuel Dombo yesterday said in a tweet that the party caucus’ “advise” to the president involved an undisclosed number of independent lawmakers working with the party.

The fresh anti-gay law, which previously met a court nullification after it was lawed by President Museveni in 2014, returned to a nearly full 11th parliament on March 21 as 389 lawmakers were present in person, with about 55 MPs following proceedings on Zoom technology. 

At least 389 MPs, mostly those belonging to NRM, attended in-person while about four-dozen others followed proceedings via Zoom as the House adopted the controversial bill last month.

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